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The Great Lululemon Yoga Pants Shortage Goes from Sheer to Scandalous

in Business of Yoga, Lululemon Pantscapade, YD News


Did we have the luon pulled over our eyes? The great yoga pants shortage or the botched lululemon see-through yoga pants debacle of 2013, or whatever you want to call it is stretching to new scandalous heights. You see, the Tawianese supplier Lululemon blamed for the extra peekaboo material and hence the $20 million recall is fighting back. And things get shadier.

The Eclat Textile Company, also a supplier for biggies like Gap and Under Armour, said nothing was different about these pants and lulu even signed off on them, Eclat’s chief executive officer Roger Lo told the Wall Street Journal.

“All shipments to Lululemon went through a certification process which Lululemon had approved,” Eclat Chief Financial Officer Roger Lo said in an interview. “All the pants were manufactured according to the requirements set out in the contract with Lululemon.”

It shall also be noted that Lululemon claimed it was working closely with the manufacturer “to understand what happened during the period this fabric was made.” However, when Lo was contacted by the press, he said he hadn’t heard from the lulus about the recall.

This has gone from sheer to shady on the scandal-o-meter.

Yet, this isn’t the first time they’ve had a problem. Lululemon has had a few follies recently and this incident follows a bunch of complaints last year about colors bleeding on some of its tops. Analysts are freaking out, in a very calm analytic way, like they do, and are warning that the lulus don’t have enough oversight in their factories which is screwing up everything, including sales (read: stocks, because they’re analysts, and that’s what analysts care about).

“With the black Luon pant recall Lulu has now had its fourth quality control issue in the last year,” Credit Suisse analyst Christian Buss said in a note to clients. “We see some potential that Lulu risks alienating its core customer base should quality control issues persist.”

Uh oh. And now the company’s shares, after rising by about two-thirds last year, are down nearly 18% so far in 2013, scaring the already skittish shareholders who probably don’t practice yoga anyway.

What’s extra crazy about all of this is that Lululemon’s big sales trick is to keep stock of big sellers intentionally low, “in order to create scarcity and buzz—and to ensure customers pay full price as often as possible.” This strategy has helped them build a billion dollar business, but it was also causing problems last year and now it seems it’s really blowing up in their faces, or is it?

Because of the 17% of yoga pants affected by this “too sheer” scare, lulu has already had to cut its first quarter sales forecast by about $20 million. Some could say that’s a manufacturing problem, some could say it was another manufactured strategy, in the form of a shady screw up.

This is nothing new, lulu fans say, and customers have been complaining for a while. Why are they making it a big deal now? Via Fashionista.com:

“Personally I think it’s a deflection and their numbers are going to be awful on Thursday [when the brand has a scheduled earnings call],” Carolyn Beauchesne, 48, who runs another popular Lulu fan blog, Lululemon Addict, told us. “It’s weird they’re owning up to it now.”

[Lululemon fan blog] Lulumum’s [Cristina] Chalmers agrees. “Now that sales have dropped they’re using it as an excuse to investors,” she said. “It’s a ‘solveable’ problem. If they didn’t have an explanation as to why the numbers are lower, then what can they solve?”

A scandal in see-through yoga clothing.

We’ll stick to our comparatively cheap-o, non-scandal tinged pants for yoga, thanks.

[Reuters; WSJ]



Lululemon Recalls See-Through Yoga Pants, Causes Shortage, Rioting in the Streets (Probably)

22 comments… add one
  • Natalie

    Lululemon is not yoga. Sure, their pants are comfortable & fit well and they write “inspiring manifestos”; however, at the end of the day it’s a CORPORATION that makes workout clothes for people that can casually drop $100 on a pair of pants and $65 for a tanktop. lululemon is on the opposite end of the spectrum based on what yoga truly represents and where it came from. Down with lulu for all I care.

  • Hal

    I have an idea…, how about manufacturing them here in the USA with union labor!

  • Kristina

    Actually they should manufacture them in Canada where the company originated and I believe is still owned

    • melissa

      : ) agreed…maybe then i would buy them!

  • aleya banks

    I used to like lululemon– not anymore. I discovered YOGASMOGA. Their Aurum fabric is much better and made in the USA.

  • Linda

    Lululemon could sell the remaining stock of see-thru pants to Frederick’s of Hollywood to compensate for their loss.

    Then Frederick’s could re-brand them as “naughty yoga knickers.”

  • Still a Fan

    What Lulu needs to do, is go back to the beginning … remember why this brand was created and the zen attitude that surrounded its birth. Lululemon has become a brand, and when that happened, Lulu lost its love for life. Chip Wilson began something beautiful and turned it over to Christine Day to become something bountiful. It should never have grown as quickly as it did …. after taking its first steps, it should have learned to walk on two feet before running on one. Lululemon has been around for many many years, and there is a devote following who remember and cherish the beginning of this company. The quality issues of the past year have left a bad tase in all our mouths and we have become very critical of the company and clothing we used to praise and adore. Instead of enthusiastically looking forward to new product drops, we scrutinize new lines for poor seams, bleeding colours and the dreaded sheerness that has the clothing industry buzzing these days. Other companies such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas will no doubt benefit from all this negative attention, but it won’t last for long. Soon enough, someone else will do something news worthy and “yoga gate” will fall to the wayside. Hopefully Lulu itself won’t fall as well.

    • Honomann

      It seems as though Lululemon took that core group of supporters for granted and started cheapening the product to bring in more profit. What troubles me about this company is that they duped people with fake philosophy and guise that were “enlightened.” The core group fell for it, happily paying $100 for yoga pants. Yoga in the West has suffered as many view the practice as more of a fashion show than a means of personal transformation.

      • Matt

        What is a “Zen attitude?”

        • Honomann

          It’s the complacency of not caring whether or not you are spending $100 on yoga pants and being asked by a 20 something anorexic “educator” to bend over and show your goodies if you want to return a defective product.

  • Jena Marie DiPinto

    Sticking with my beloved Old Navy ones. Less than $20 each and no one sees my ladybusiness!

  • How about

    Here it is…the perfect opportunity for yoga alliance .

  • Isn’t this a classic sales strategy? Create the perception of a shortage and people will run out and buy your stock.

    • Honomann

      Scary. Almost a year ago to the day Lululemon had a big press release that there was a shortage. The beat goes on…

  • Matt

    What’s the Sanskrit word for schadenfreude?

  • Both mine and my husbands vintage lulu pants and tops from circa 2000 purchased while in Vancouver on vacation are still unphased from 1000’s of washings. The quality was superior before it became mass produced in China. I wore my paants throughout three pregnancies and they never even lost shape. No pilling or fading either like happens now to pants purchased in recent years even when ONLY washed cold water and hung dry. Lulu will continue to be successful because of their dominant presence but we are all aware that there are is great competition now. So many smaller less known lines along with Lucy, Athleta, Alo, Zohba, Zella, Kira Grace, Under Armour, Nike, Gap just to name a few. Consumers certainly do have choices. So mix it up as You strike a pose and don’t forget TO BREATHE!

  • Stephanie

    What’s really messed up is that I thought, from the title, that Lululemon made see-through pants *on purpose* and that there was a shortage because everyone wanted to wear them! I don’t think much of Lululemon shoppers, I guess.

  • thirdeye

    I got some great yoga pants at TJ Maxx $17. Forget Lululemon!

  • Dee

    I was at a conference this weekend and heard……LL got bought by Nike…anyone else heard this?


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